Theme 1

Systemic resilience assessment and co-learning process

There are two objectives under Theme 1. These are:

• To develop, test and institutionalise an integrated systemic resilience approach, as the basis for transforming Natural Resource Management governance and practice towards a more resilient Olifants Basin
• To ensure continuous reflective and collaborative processes that promotes integration, synergies and coherency between all programmatic objectives (cross link with theme 4).

Broadly this theme encompasses the commitment to a systemic approach to transformation for resilience planning and practice. Additionally it seeks to ensure coherency within the programme through reflective and collaborative processes, an objective shared with Theme 4. To these ends this theme aims to understand the vulnerabilities or resilience of natural resources (water and biodiversity) to drivers of change (especially climate change). An important part of this is the tenet that by understanding the ORB as a socio-ecological system or SES, the project will be able to illuminate areas of vulnerability by tracking climate change through the system as a whole. Also the configuration of practices and governance systems can either confer or undermine resilience. By working through practices with stakeholders in the light of change and adaptation, we will support the development of resilience practices. These will then be further tested in Phase 2 with sub-grantees.

A number of work packages each with an outcome, planned activities and outputs are provided by Theme 1.

Work packages under Theme 1:

the political economy of water and biodiversity for the ORB;
• the livelihoods and dependencies on natural resources, especially of the poor;
• ecosystem services provided by water and biodiversity and how these support livelihoods and well-being;
• understanding the potential impacts of climate change, vulnerabilities and risk-reduction approaches.
• understanding land reform and the potential implications for the management and governance of water and biodiversity in the ORB

In addition to these, this theme makes an important contribution in terms of bringing together the outputs from various key activities of the various themes into a systemic view of the ORB. It also supports and synthesizes research in areas that were identified as gaps during proposal development.

 Planned activities for Theme 1

Theme 1 plays a vital role in coordinating the RESILIM O programme as a whole. It also holds the responsibility for conducting the resilience assessment and planning for resilience.

a. Contextual profiling:  In order to develop a collective systemic view, input is needed from a range of sources and research activities about the catchment. Most importantly so as to do this in a way that promotes co-learning, this needs to be undertaken together with stakeholders since it is they that reside in and need to plan for change in the catchment. This will involve multiple methods such as one-on-one interviews, focus group discussions and multi-stakeholder sessions (known by the acronym of V-STEEP ).
b. Synthesis of current research: Before engaging processes that involve stakeholders it is important that the AWARD team synthesizes existing information for the ORB. Thus activities include:
• Synthesis of current research; and
• Drafting of preliminary systems diagrams for the ORB.
c. Cross-cutting assessments: As noted there are critical ‘informational’ gaps which will greatly enhance a systemic understanding of the ORB as a socio ecological system. The focus will be on:
• Conceptualizing climate change and associated current practices (e.g. disaster management), implications and adaptive responses done together with stakeholders
• political economy of natural resources,
• livelihoods, the ecosystem dependencies and well-being of people living in the ORB
• dependencies on ecosystem services (which is informed by Themes 2 and 3) and
• the status of land reform and the implications for resilience building
d. Initial development of a systemic view
• Assessments will inform the development of a systemic view of the ORB as a start to the resilience assessment. The work will also elucidate major practices to inform the work of Theme 4.
e. Co-ordination and integration: Theme 1 plays an important role in co-ordinating the key research areas, synthesizing and integrating the resilience assessment in a way that ensures coherency and co-learning (Objective 5). To do this the Theme co-ordinates RESILIM O staff as well as consultants involved in specific activities.
f. Project governance and management: Supporting the project governance and co-learning under Theme 1 is the Reference Group (see Table 1) which provides a platform where RESILIM O can discuss strategic issues including project governance as well as conceptual and methodological orientations.